Staffing shortages will force Dubuque city officials to only open one public pool for the summer

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 10:57 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Dubuque city officials have announced only Flora Pool will open this summer due to staffing shortages.

In 2021, despite also dealing with shortages, the city created an alternating schedule for the pools, but Dan Kroger, the city’s recreation division manager, said that did not work out for them.

”It was confusing for the community and it was also really hard for staff,” Kroger confessed. “”It still meant that we had longer shifts, we had less days off for staff to recover and recoup and it really had a significant burnout factor.”

Kroger said some staff left their jobs before the season was over and very few of them actually returned to work for the pools in 2022. He said the city is currently reviewing around 35 applicants for lifeguard positions, but he mentioned that does not mean all 35 of them will make it through the process.

“Just opening one pool ensures safety for patrons and also allows staff to have a pleasant experience, which helps build back the workforce,” he added.

Kroger said the city decided it would be Flora the pool to open this year, instead of Sutton Pool, because of its size. Sutton, according to Kroger, is 30 percent smaller than Flora when it comes to body of water.

”It (Flora) is our largest pool, so that does offer us more bang for the community in terms of the number of lessons we can have for the community as well as, during open swim time, the number of patrons we can have at one time,” he explained. Kroger said the plan is to have Flora operate as it would any regular summer.

Dubuque city officials have taken steps to try to attract more people to work at the pools. Those include raising the hourly wage from just under $11 an hour to $12.50 an hour. The city is also covering the cost for either full certification or renewal, which can cost somewhere between $30 to $200 per lifeguard. Kroger said his team also started recruiting in December, which is earlier than usual, and made a bigger effort to reach out to local partners, like schools and colleges, for recruiting opportunities.

A press release states city staff are exploring options to provide a shuttle service to assist residents in getting to Flora Pool, which is scheduled to open on Friday, June 3.

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